I was scrolling through Instagram mid-March and saw that Tanya Hughes was putting on her Dress Like Your Grandma sewing challenge for a second year. I was thrilled because last year I found myself admiring everyone’s submissions and fantasizing about the outfits I would love to recreate. So of course I signed up for this year’s challenge and started searching for my inspiration.
My grandma, Charlotte, is the avid sewist herself and made many, many outfits for herself, her children, and her grandchildren. I actually did a study of her fashion through the years for her 80th birthday and ended up painting her various outfits. So after looking through all my pictures of her, I decided on this picture of her and my grandfather from 1984. I wanted to make something fairly simple to make and that would translate well to my personal style.
I ended up purchasing this pattern for the project from Vogue (pattern number V9265) and this blue tear drop fabric from Robert Kaufman. I thought the scoop neck and puff sleeves mirrored my grandma’s dress nicely. I believe my grandma used a very small blue floral quilting cotton for her dress and the blue and white tear drops I picked keeps the color palette similar, but adds a bit of my personal flare.
I modified the pattern to ditch the skirt lining, add side-seam pockets, and shorten the sleeve slightly. There were a few issues with the pattern (the skirt panels ended up being ~4 inches too small for the bodice and the neckline gaped quite a bit) but I had a lot of fun with the princess seams and puffy sleeves and the cotton was a pleasure to sew.
Overall, it was a very fun challenge to find inspiration in an era-specific outfit and sewing this dress gave me an appreciation for the generations of sewists that have proceeded me. I think I was dipping my toes in the water of sewing vintage-style clothing, so next year I might challenge myself to go back further in time (maybe I’ll try to find a picture of my great grandma).